A blueprint for Black Friday planning

Black Friday is a lot of things. It’s a terrific day for bargains, a garish celebration of consumerism, and a massive opportunity and a massive headache for retailers. It has been critical in the history of FringeSport. We love Black Friday — the”shopping vacation.” It’s a large reason why we exist.

I founded FringeSport in 2010 in my garage. I wanted a business that would make a difference for our clients, be something special in the world, and create a positive effect on millions of people.

We climbed a little, made some sales here and there, and Black Friday 2011 rolled along. My partner and I planned a Black Friday sale on the internet and, too, in our warehouse Austin.

When we showed up that morning to our (tiny) warehouse, we were locked out! Our landlord had rented the place to a group for the weekend to shoot a music video — and did not tell us. We banged on the door and got the ring to stop recording for thirty minutes. We then dragged up to stock from the warehouse as we can, and waited.

Thirty minutes later, an older Volkswagen Jetta showed up. Kara, Joe, and Raul measure out. They looked at us, and purchased nearly all of our bumper (weightlifting) plates — our principal product. They kept coming back during the day, loading up the Jetta, and driving away with our bumpers. They cleared us out. We had to turn off a few other shoppers searching for bumpers.

Happily, we could restock to our orders from a local dealer and meet the internet demand.

That Black Friday finally confirmed to me that what we were building was what our viewers and the world wanted. And that was the day I decided to quit my job and concentrate on becoming better than anybody else on earth at caring for the customers that FringeSport aims — a journey I am still on.

Fringe Sport currently does about a month’s worth of business from the four days of Black Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday.

To get ready for the onslaught, we concentrate on the critical elements.

  • Sales promotions.
  • Time and organization.
  • Staffing.
  • Fulfillment and customer service.
  • Promotion and spouses.
  • Feedback and improvement for the next year.

Sales promotions. Black Friday is a day when customers are primed to open their wallets and buy. We frequently see conversion rates on FringeSport.com increase by three-to-four times what they’re — even though conversion rates for the week or so prior to the purchase are approximately one-half of normal.

We try to be certain that the sales promos are satisfying and exciting for our shoppers. We have a tendency to put broad swaths of our products on sale. We might provide these discounts during the remainder of the year on individual products, but through the Black Friday sale our clients can order many distinct goods and enjoy sale pricing on most categories, rather than only one.

We also run”lightning prices” of greatly discounted products using a limited time and quantity — e.g.,”sale goes live at noon and we just have five things offered at this price.”

In addition, in our physical shop we provide”door busters” aimed at enticing shoppers to stop by. “Door busters” tend to not work too online.

Time and organization. Your clients and employees will need to understand when the purchase will be live and how to purchase. This sounds easy, but there are a few tricky points regarding when to declare the sale. If the statement is too early, you risk missing shoppers who delay ordering and maybe forget to order and visit a competitor. When it’s too late, you risk missing out again as shoppers have already purchased or intend to order from the competition.

For us, the sweet spot is announcing that the sale — to our email readers — about a week out.

Staffing. We’ve toyed with hiring seasonal aid or, rather, getting our workers to work plenty of overtime. I am still not sure which choice is better. If we need overtime, our workers could get tired and burn . Seasonal hiring can be positive, in that the hires can sometimes develop into full-time workers after the holidays.

The drawback of seasonal hiring is that the aid is almost always less efficient and more error prone.

Fulfillment and customer support. Once we cram about 30 days worth of earnings into four, it produces a massive bottleneck for outbound shipments. We compensate by requesting UPS and our freight partners to provide more trucks for us to load, and by altering human resources to transport and fulfillment from marketing and other purposes. Though customers may be given a excellent price, they still expect fast delivery!

Promotions and spouses. To get the word out on our sale, in the months and weeks leading up to Black Friday we coordinate with our advertising partners to be certain they’re encouraging us during the sale. We will often promote them .

Another massive choice is whether to provide sale pricing on Amazon and eBay. Our choice is always no. We strongly prefer to maintain the sales on our stations.

Feedback and improvement for the next year. We always have a feedback meeting in one or two weeks following the sale to discuss the highlights and lowlights. What promos worked? What promos did not? What was the feedback from customers and employees? It’s handy to place all this in a Google Doc so that you may review it .

How can you plan for Black Friday?

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